MIR: Expedition 6
|Given names:||Anatoli Yakovlevich||Aleksandr Nikolayevich|
|Spacecraft (Launch):||Soyuz TM-9||Soyuz TM-9|
|Launchtime:||06:16 UTC||06:16 UTC|
|Spacecraft (Landing):||Soyuz TM-9||Soyuz TM-9|
|Landingtime:||07:33 UTC||07:33 UTC|
|Mission duration:||179d 01h 17m||179d 01h 17m|
|Given names:||Gennadi Mikhailovich||Gennadi Mikhailovich|
Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; landing 72 km northeast of Arkalyk.
Following a two day solo flight Soyuz TM-9 docked with the Soyuz TM-8-MIR-Kvant-Kvant2 complex on February 13, 1990. The sixth resident crew takes turning the fifth resident crew.
Soon after they arrived in orbit, Aleksandr Balandin and Anatoli Soloviyov noted that three of eight thermal insulation blankets on their spacecraft's descent module had come loose at their lower (heat shield) ends and were waving about as the spacecraft maneuvered in space. It was thought they could block optical navigation sensors, and that the damaged insulation might cause the spacecraft to overheat or cool down so much that condensation would form on its optical equipment. The possibility existed that an electrical short might occur if condensation developed on equipment. Docking with MIR occurred as normal. The cosmonauts and TsUP worked out procedures by which the TsUP monitored Soyuz TM-9's temperature and maneuvered MIR to move it in and out of sunlight as needed to maintain proper temperature. In the meantime, cosmonauts worked in the hydrolab training facility in Zvezdny Gorodok, outside Moscow, to develop EVA repair procedures. Consideration was also given to sending a rescue Soyuz-TM carrying a single cosmonaut to pick up the cosmonauts and return them to Earth.
Three other areas of concern emerged: that the explosive bolts binding the service module to the descent module might fail to work after direct exposure to space, that the heat shield might be compromised by direct space exposure, and that an EVA to repair the blankets might cause additional damage. Consideration was given to flying Soyuz TM-10 with one cosmonaut aboard as a rescue mission.
Progress M-3 arrived and remained docked with the station from March 03, 1990 - April 27, 1990. It delivered replacement parts for MIR, including new storage batteries, electrical system components, and computer parts. The cosmonauts began installing these by March 07, 1990. Most of March 1990 was taken up with work on the computer system.
Supplies with several cargo spaceships of type Progress arrived at the station. The module Kristall (with food containers and the industrial processing units Krater 3, Optizon 1, Zona 02, and Zona 03.) docked with the station on June 10, 1990.
From May 07, 1990 - May 27, 1990 Progress 42 occupied the aft port of MIR. This was the last of the highly successful series of Progress vehicles. It marked the 43rd Progress docking (counting Kosmos 1669), all of which were successful. The Progress freighters delivered 99 tons of material to Salyut 6, Salyut 7, and MIR. Use of Progress 42 forced a delay in the integration of the Salyut 5B control computer delivered with Kvant2, as Progress 42 could interface only with the old Argon 16B system.
The long-awaited, much-delayed Kristall module arrived at MIR's front port on June 10, 1990 and was relocated to the lateral port opposite Kvant2 on the next day. This restored the equilibrium of the complex, which had been asymmetrical since Kvant2 was placed at a lateral port in December 1989. The Kristall module was launched May 31, 1990. It had aborted its first docking attempt on June 06, 1990 due to an attitude control thruster failure. Delays in launch and docking affected Aleksandr Balandin and Anatoli Soloviyov, who were scheduled to return to Earth at the end of July 1990. Their mission was extended 10 days to permit them to activate Kristall's systems, and to accommodate the EVA to repair the loose thermal blankets on Soyuz TM-9.
Anatoli Soloviyov and Aleksandr Balandin had not previously been trained to perform an EVA. They trained by videotape sent up from the ground on a Progress spacecraft, and also by observing practice sessions televised from the hydrobasin. Special EVA tools were manufactured and sent to the cosmonauts. On July 03, 1990 they moved Soyuz TM-9 to the MIR front port so it could be more easily reached for repairs.
The first EVA was performed on July 17, 1990 (7h 16m) in which spacecraft Soyuz TM-9 was repaired (three of the eight thermal blankets (layers of foil vacuum-shield insulation) on the descent module of the approaching Soyuz TM-9 spacecraft had come loose from their attachments near the heat shield, yet remained attached at their top ends).
The hatch slammed back on its hinges. They used a pair of clamps, which they attached to handholds, to move down Kvant2. They also secured themselves with long and short ropes. After 1.5 hour they reached the multiport docking node. They attached to Kvant2 ladders for reaching the damage site on their Soyuz-TM. The cosmonauts determined that the Soyuz TM-9 descent module remained in excellent condition. However, the thermal blankets had shrunk, making them impossible to reattach. They fell back on a contingency plan by folding two of the three blankets in half.
They were well behind schedule by this point. They left their tools and ladders at the repair site and hurried to return to MIR, as the rated endurance of their suits (6.5 hours) had been exceeded. This meant crawling over Kvant2's hull in the dark. They found that the Kvant2 hatch would not close. To permit them to re-enter the pressurized portion of MIR, the central compartment of Kvant2 was called into play as an emergency airlock, as it had been designed to do.
Another EVA was performed on July 26, 1990 (3h 31m). The cosmonauts depressurized the Kvant2 central compartment. After several attempts to close the outside hatch from inside, they televised images of the damaged hinge to the TsUP, then returned to the multiport node to secure their ladders. Finally, they removed a portion of the hinge cover, which had broken and become lodged between the hatch and its frame. They found the hatch much easier to close and seal after this. They repressurized the EVA airlock.
The crew conducted an extensive program of geophysical and astrophysical research, experiments on biology and biotechnology and work on space materials science. They started the commercial production of crystal in highest quality for an US electronic company. A protein grow experiment was also profitable (25 Million Rubel).
The MIR-7 relief crew arrived aboard Soyuz TM-10 on August 03, 1990. The new crew arrived at MIR's aft port with four passengers - quail for cages in Kvant2. A quail laid an egg en route to the station. It was returned to Earth, along with 130 kg of experiment results and industrial products, in Soyuz TM-9.
During reentry, the cosmonauts ejected both the orbital module and the service module simultaneously in an effort to minimize the chances that a blanket could snag. Normally the orbital module went first. The descent module suffered no damage as a result of its prolonged exposure to space conditions. The landing was without incident.
Last update on November 15, 2013.